WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) released its updated federal legislative priorities for the first session of the 118th United States Congress. The IATSE Federal Issue Agenda highlights the core issues facing behind-the-scenes workers employed throughout the U.S. entertainment industry and conveys the union’s federal policy priorities to elected officials.
During the 117th Congress, IATSE advocacy spurred crucial legislative victories and considerable progress on previous iterations of the union’s issue agenda. From the American Rescue Plan Act to the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill, key provisions passed into law that directly benefitted IATSE members included:
• Federal unemployment insurance programs that provided a lifeline to thousands of IATSE members unable to return to work due to the pandemic.
• Protection of IATSE’s healthy pension plans and generational relief for the multiemployer pension system.
• 100% subsidy of COBRA premiums and ACA health insurance subsidies to maintain healthcare for members while out of work.
• Labor union eligibility and access to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans.
• Record high federal arts funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, directly impacting job growth in the nonprofit arts.
• Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program (Save Our Stages) providing economic support for employers in live events, with labor protections ensuring a return to work for IATSE members.
• Increased funding for the National Labor Relations Board to ensure workers’ rights are protected.
In addition to these tangible wins, IATSE also made progress on other policy priorities within the issue agenda, including successful votes in the House of Representatives on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, Equality Act, CROWN Act, John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and Freedom to Vote Act.
We enter the 118th Congress clear-eyed about the challenges we face for these priorities and others important to working people. The partisan split control of Congress poses a difficult environment in which to enact meaningful pro-worker legislation and will undoubtedly slow the pace of progress. Commenting on this dynamic, IATSE International President Matthew Loeb stated:
“Just because a fight may be long or arduous doesn’t mean we pack up and go home. Be it at the bargaining table, or in the halls of Congress, we will continue to push for the changes and protections our members deserve and have fought hard to achieve. It’s not only the right thing to do, but our mandate as their union.”
The union’s core agenda remains focused on protecting the rights of working people to organize a union and bargain for higher wages and better benefits; restoring tax fairness for union creative professionals; advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the arts and entertainment industry; increasing federal funding for the arts; defending creative works from copyright theft and piracy; safeguarding the multiemployer pension and health plans of IATSE members; realizing a health care system that is affordable and accessible to all; protecting the right to vote in free and fair elections; and establishing a national paid family and medical leave program that accounts for the nature of our work.
The document is not meant to be comprehensive, as the IATSE consistently advocates on additional legislative matters that impact IATSE members, but the issues outlined in this agenda are of primary concern to all our members.